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Monday, January 30, 2006


It looks like the coast is clear for Samuel Alito after the Senate voted today to cut off debate and cast final votes on the nomination. The procedural vote was 72-25. The ill-fated filibuster attempt, spearheaded by Massachusetts senators Kennedy and Kerry, was a political blunder. It came too late to pose any threat to the nomination. Kerry looks like an opportunist, who either wanted to tell the party base in 2008 that he did everything he could to stop Alito, or who wanted to force Hillary into a corner. That actually worked, as perhaps Hillary voted to address all the grumbling about her efforts to move toward the political center. Kennedy only raised questions about the moral authority he has to spearhead such a charge against Alito.

Like Dignan, I'm not completely sure about Alito, either. I respect the right of Democrats or Republicans to oppose his nomination on principle. But to inject the filibuster into this debate strikes me as shameless and unfounded. And it backfired. What I don't get are the senators who voted for it even as they implied it was futile or ill-advised. Most disappointing to me: Evan Bayh, the moderate who clearly is pandering to the base because he wants to run in 2008.
Beyond this issue, the Republican Party has been full of enough disappointment in the last several years to discourage true conservatives as well as ideological opponents. I keep waiting for them to pay a political price. Maybe in 2006 or 2008. But the Democratic Party once again has affirmed the old adage, "With friends like these, who needs enemies?"

P.S. For all the conservative complaints about the Gang of 14, they ensured the failure of any filibuster. And conservatives need to realize that whatever they think of the McCains of the world, the average voter wants bipartisanship and compromise.

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